Why You Can't Afford to Follow the eBay Herd

By Steve Nye, eBay Certified Consultant and HammerTap Education Specialist

eBay publishes a report on how buyers use eBay. I found some interesting facts in it I think you'll find exciting. I won't make you wade through the whole report. I'll skip right to the meat.

Good News

I found great news for eBay sellers. Just over one third of all Internet users in the U.S. visit eBay each month! No other eCommerce site can say that. The top month of the report showed nearly 60 million monthly visitors to eBay. That's a lot of buyers.

Visitors spend more time on eBay than on competitor sites. The report showed an average of up to 110 minutes spent per visitor every month! The closest competitor was amazon.com at 30 minutes per month. And typically, where people spend their time they spend their money too.

Another Shocker

Who's using eBay? You might think since the younger generation has taken to the Internet like fish to water that they'd make up much of those on eBay. Not so. Only 7% of eBay visitors are between 18 and 24 years old. A whopping 76% of eBay visitors are 35 or older.

If They've Got It, They Can Spend It

Here's where I was blown away. I assumed a large portion of the folks buying on eBay were bargain-hunters. While that may be true, it isn't because eBay shoppers don't make good money.

Only 5% of eBay shoppers make $25,000 per year or less! 41% of eBay shoppers make more than $75,000 per year! With that kind of income, it's no secret that you'd spend more than those who earn less. eBay shoppers make way above average income. Great news for those selling on eBay.

Which Generalizations Can Cost You?

In this report eBay also tells you the heaviest traffic days are on Sundays and Mondays. It's their data, so I'm sure it's accurate. But here's the problem.

They make the conclusion that since there's more traffic on Sunday and Monday, you should time your listings to end on one of those days. If I didn't know about auction research, I'd have to go with their recommendation.

Let's Test eBay's Conclusion

Let's see if eBay's generalization about closing on a Sunday or Monday holds for various products. I picked quite literally the first three things that came to my mind: sony televisions, hoover vacuums, and plush toys.

Figure1: Sony Televisions

In Figure 1 above, we see that eBay's advice to end your auction on a Sunday or Monday improves your chance to sell (Auction Success Rate). Closing on Monday results in the best Auction Success Rate.

However, if you're one of us who wants to make more on the products you sell (and who doesn't), take another look. The Average Selling Price (ASP) on Monday is actually the WORST day to sell price-wise.

Closing your auction on Thursday actually would have made you $218 more on average! And it didn't cost you one dime more in listing fees. Without auction research, you'd have never known you cheated yourself out of over two hundred dollars.

Figure 2: Hoover Vacuums

Figure 2 above shows how here again eBay's advice pays off in the best Auction Success Rate. This time around, Sunday ranks best for maximizing your chance to sell.

But again, closing on Sunday isn't your best day for price. Closing on Saturday increases the selling price by $39.7%. You make a bonus $15.92 on every item. Again, the only difference was in simply knowing more than your competition.

Let's look at one last product. Where the first two examples were electronic appliances, I wanted to pick something as different as possible. I picked plush toys.

Figure 3: Plush Toys

In Figure 3 we see a case where closing on Sunday or Monday not only are among the worst days for Average Selling Price, but also among the worst for Auction Success Rate.

The only day worse than Sunday or Monday for Auction Success Rate was Wednesday. With plush toys, we're only talking about $2.24 difference between the best and worst price.

But let's say you find a source for a hundred plush toys you want to sell on eBay. That's $224 more you'd make using auction research.


So am I saying not to trust eBay's conclusions? Absolutely not. I'm just saying that you have to put it in context. They make their conclusions based on everything from toasters to BMW's.

If you didn't know about auction research, you'd be crazy not to follow their advice. After all, they're auction experts. But with auction research as your guide, you don't have to rely on rules of thumb and generic advice which can steal your eBay profits.

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If she earns an extra dollar or two per minute for the research she does, that sounds like a pretty great wage to me.

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